Before my first marathon, my childhood friend, Sarah, gave me some advice: ‘Don’t miss the beer stops!’ Beer stops? I had read ever bit I could on marathon running and never saw one mention of beer stops. Even though I worried endlessly that my long run pace wouldn’t really be any slower and that 20 miles didn’t really translate into being able to run 26.2 miles, I suddenly had fantasies of me being able to throw a beer into the mix. I imagined myself looking so cool at mile 22 slinging back a cold one like the marathon was nothing to me. My stomach had held up pretty well on long runs, especially compared to some stories I had heard from other runners. Yet, when I saw the beer stop in the San Antonio marathon around mile 22, I had just quelled the nausea that had set in at mile 18. By then, I knew I would finish the marathon, but my secondary goal of having an ice-cold dixie cup of beer wasn’t meant to be. As if to taunt me in my failures, my second marathon, the LIVESTRONG Austin marathon had people handing out beer from about mile 10 on. I saw at least five beer stops. Still, I couldn’t hack it. I ran past them all choosing my running goals over my beer drinking goals.
All of that changed on Sunday when I ran the Cap10k, the largest 10k in Texas. I should have known that a 10k that boasts 23,000 registrants is going to have some walkers. I like walkers. I’m excited to see them out in my city getting healthy. I like them best when they are behind me and not walking in large, hard to pass groups. By mile 3, I was looking for ways to cut through some side streets to avoid the crowds. (I signed up last-minute and the only thing timing me was my Garmin.) All I could think is, “Why am I running this race? I signed up, because I hadn’t raced since the Austin marathon, a month ago. It is a waste of money.” Then, I heard them calling. A group of college aged boys sitting on a couch were shouting, “Free beer. It’s warm, but it’s free.” I was running this race, because it was my destiny to drink beer during a marathon. Here was my training. When they shouted their offer again, I responded with a “Hell, yeah, thanks guys” and grabbed this Lone Star. It was warm. Hot. I decided I’d carry it to the finish line and drink it later that night. You wouldn’t believe how carrying a warm, free beer changed my mood. About a half a mile later, a group was handing out dixie cups of beer for a ‘wiggle.’ I downed two of them with my free hand. Had I been a more experienced beer runner, I should have traded them my warm beer for a cold one. I didn’t think of this until a mile later. I can’t say that my love of beer will ever supersede my love of running during a race. It certainly has a few times in between races. But maybe I am one step closer to unifying my love of marathons to my love of beer.